Saturday, 31 December 2011

New Year Goals - 12 in 2012

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm not overly thrilled with my lack of productivity in 2011, and so I've sat myself down and had a little thought about how I could rectify this. Rather than new year resolutions (which, come on, we all know we don't keep!), I have come up with 12 in 2012! I'm setting myself SMART goals (lol, can you tell I'm a Project Manager in 'real' life?!) which I can tick off as I complete them. And to help me along the way, I've added a page to the blog to keep track of it all.

Specific: each goal is a specific item
Measurable: I'll link to each project/goal once it's achieved
Achievable: every goal has been achieved by others before me, so they should all be achievable!
Realistic: Hmmmm, perhaps not....should I change 'R' to Ridiculous?!
Timely: all to be completed by the end of 2012

Because I'm a sucker for punishment (biting off more than I can chew! Makes me think the 'A' and 'R' in my SMART goals aren't very accurate!), I've got three lists that I hope to achieve:

12 Pieces of Handmade Clothing:
1. Shirt (or shirt dress)
2. Jacket
3. Trousers
4. Some sort of under-garment
5. Pencil skirt
6. Summer Dress
7. Bombshell Dress
8. Half-circle skirt
9. Wildcard!
11. Wildcard!

12 New Sewing Techniques:
1. Collar
2. Sleeves
3. Lapped zip
4. Hand-picked zip
5. Mitered corners
6. Baby/rolled hem
7. Piping
8. Scallops
9. Inset a Godet
10. Make own bias binding
11. Underlining
12. Boning

12 New Sewing Skills:
1. Sew from a vintage pattern
2. Draft a skirt sloper/block
3. Draft a bodice sloper/block
4. Drafted a half-circle skirt
5. Remove and replace a zip from a bought garment
6. Make my own Croqui
7. Sew with jersey
8. Try patchwork
9. Make a garment from a Burda Magazine pattern (successfully!)
10. Learn to use an overlocker/serger
11. Learn to crochet
12. Make a Colette Patterns garment

As you can see, I'm not completely in over my head, I've made sure some of the goals under each list link together - so when I finish sewing a shirt, I can also tick off collar and sleeves, and when I make my Bombshell dress, I'll be able to tick off Burda Magazine pattern, underlining, boning etc!

Anyone fancy joining in? Feel free to make your own 12 in 2012 goals and we can panic together as December 2012 looms and only have half the list ticked off   share our achievements together! In my next post I'll share a button which you can add to your blog if you like. Do let me know if you join in!

Friday, 30 December 2011

On Reflection and being totally Honest

For those of you who read my blog on an RSS you may (or may not!) be interested to know that I have recently updated and streamlined my ‘I Made This’ page showing all the projects I have made (more or less) since I started blogging. Since the end of the year is nearing, I thought it would be a suitable time to tidy it up, and it also gave me a chance to reflect on what I have achieved this year.
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On the plus side, I have been more productive than the last two year and I do have a few projects that I am particularly pleased with, my favourite being my Crescent skirt (left). I have worn this a fair bit since making it, and even when the weather cooled down (ha, sounds like we had a heat wave during the Summer…we did not!), it works well with tights and boots. I don’t, however, love the fabric it is made of. As much as I love how cheap Ikea fabric is, you get what you pay for and you only have to so much as look at this fabric and it starts to crease!


I also liked my jersey Fireworks skirt (right). But I have to admit, this is completely down to the fabric. The construction of the skirt is basic to say the least and it’s a skirt that I wouldn’t let anyone who knew how to sew get too close to, for fear they may see my shoddy work (more on this topic later). But saying that, I have got some wear out of it, and again it works well with tights and boots for colder weather.

The make that gets me the most compliments when I wear it is definitely my woollen tartan dress (left, sorry the photo isn’t the best). I have to say this is probably the project I am most proud of. I learnt a lot of new techniques and I think I shocked and impressed my mum that I actually ended up with a nice looking dress (probably the main way I gauge whether a project is a success or not – I know, that’s not good, but she is a hard nut to please!). I made this in my sewing class last year, and finished it off at the start of this year. It was great to be able to use the serger/overlocker in the sewing school, so all my edges look so lovely and neat and tidy, and my teacher was able to give me lots of tips on cutting out and lining up the tartan. BUT, we didn’t have time in the class to do a muslin, so the size I cut out was too big. This was easy to fix for the skirt, but the straps and bust are too big and I’m not in love with the fit up there. I now know that the ‘Big 4’ pattern companies always have too much ease in their sizing and I know to cut smaller – so I guess it’s all part of the learning experience.


I really enjoyed the challenge of making my Midnight Lace dress (right) – taking apart a cheapy dress from Primark and refashioning it into a (hopefully) much nicer dress. From afar, and in photos, I think this dress looks fantastic and I’m so pleased with how it turned out. BUT, once you get up close and personal with it, you can see that the inside is messy and the sizing is wrong. I have never worn this dress out in ‘real life’ because 1) I don’t really have an occasion to wear this and 2) I don’t want people seeing my shoddy work! But as I said, it was fun to challenge myself with this project, and again, I did learn some new skills.

black handbagB&W_ikea_shoulder_bag2girlsbag 004Everything else this year (apart from a couple of tops and some pj bottoms) has been an accessory – mainly bags. I’ve mentioned on the blog before that I would like to start making bags to sell, but unfortunately I haven’t got my ass in gear soon enough and have yet to make enough to open a little shop. I do plan on doing this in the new year (I’ve even booked off leave in January which I plan to use just for sewing!). But judging by the stats and comments on bags that I post about, they aren’t really of that much interest to my current audience. That’s fine, and it’s something that I’m address in the new year also (hopefully!).
So that’s the ‘reflection’ now let’s be ‘honest’. All in all I’m a bit underwhelmed by what I’ve made this year. All of the projects are OK, but there is nothing that I am really proud to say I’ve made. I mentioned earlier that there are some of my makes that I’m happy enough with from afar, but don’t want people looking too close at it and inspecting my work! Does anyone else find that when you say you have made something to someone, they automatically star inspecting it closely and examine the stitching and construction in great detail? OK, it’s great that they are taking an interest, but I get very self conscious and start making excuses for my work. I know that is ridiculous, and compared to a lot of the RTW stuff you find on the high street, the work is better  and should last longer (erm, except for my lovely Pendrell top which frayed – booo). The thing is that I read a lot (A LOT) of other sewing blogs and there are so many amazingly talented sew-ers (hyphening so that I’m not calling you sewers!) out there that I can’t help but compare myself and my journey into sewing with theirs. So many of you have come leaps and bounds since you first started sewing and I am in awe of the gorgeous things you are able to churn out now. And a lot of you are so meticulous with your construction, making sure that even the inside looks as beautiful as the outside. I admire you and aspire to sew like that. But it got me thinking the other day…I have a pile of UFOs and un-started projects in my sewing room that I am putting off…and I was wondering why I’m not cracking on with them. They aren’t overly difficult projects but there must be something that is holding me back. And I have come to the conclusion that the main reason is I’m scared of messing it up and producing a sub-standard garment. For example, I am half way through making a Jenny skirt with an invisible zip. But it’s just lying there, waiting for me to get back to working on it. And that’s because I’m not happy with how I inserted the zip and want to go back and fix it. To be completely honest, my main thought was “oh no, I can’t show that on the blog, it’s not good enough!”. This is ridiculous, and I know it’s ridiculous, but yet it’s the truth.
So. 2012. A new year. A chance to change my attitude and come back fighting. Who care's if it’s not good enough to be displayed in the V&A, so long as it doesn’t come apart while I’m wearing it, and I like what it looks like, that should be all that matters. This should all be about me (yep, let’s be honest – blogs are very self indulgent things) and about me learning new skills, not comparing myself to other people.
And on that note, I have some plans for 2012. I’ll share them with you next year Winking smile

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Tuesday’s Tutorial Treat–Glitter heels for NYE!

tuesday tutorial treat button


Glitter is everywhere this year but this DIY has to be one of my favourite. Geneva (A Pair and a Spare) kills it once again with gorgeous glitter heels, perfect for adding last minute bling to your NYE outfit! Get the low down HERE.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Happy Christmas!

sewing printable vintage image--graphicsfairy2c



Wishing everyone a very Happy Christmas and a fabric filled 2012.

May your stockings be overflowing with sewing goodies and may you never run out of thread!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Anna’s got a brand new bag

Annas bag 011

Well it's that time of year again when all my friends put their names in a hat and we choose our Secret Santa. Last Christmas I gave you my heart I got my friend Meliosa and made her one of my Curvy Clutch bags (pattern from Keyka Lou) in silver with a royal purple lining and embellished it with a purple feather hair clip which really takes the bag from plain to party!

Annas bag 012

This year to save me from tears (OK, I'll stop that now) the name pulled out of the hat was my friend Anna. This was quite a coincidence as all of this past year she has been dropping not-so-subtle hints that she would like one of my bags! So it was pretty easy to decide what I should give her! The only minor problem was that we got our Secret Santa names quite late this year and I didn't know if I would have the time to make a bag. Even so, I thought I'd check my fabric stash and have a look in the fabric shops to see if I could find a suitable fabric that Anna might like -'s really hard to pick a fabric for someone else, I just couldn't decide if she would like any of the fabrics I found!

Annas bag 020

However, I did have a small stash of already made bags that I had started to accumulate (in the hopes of starting up a shop). So after some deliberation I decided that Anna would like (eek - I hope so!) this bag. It's made from an old pair of trousers of mine (hmmm...can't decide if I should tell her that yet or not - what do you guys think, would that sound weird?!!!) which are like a kind of tweed with a gorgeous bronze sparkle through it. The inside is lined with purple tie-die batik which you may remember from my purple and red dress (from a good while ago!).

Annas bag 021

The bag on it's own is lovely, but since Mel's bag was embellished with a feather clip, I thought I'd better see if I could get a suitable one for Anna's bag. This was harder than I thought it would be - feather hair clips mustn't be as fashionable this year as last! But after a thorough search I stumbled across this lovely clip with fuchsia, plum and olive feathers - it picks out the various colours of the bag perfectly.

Annas bag 023

And the best thing about using a removable clip is that without it, the bag can be used in a more informal setting. Oh, and you can obviously use the clip elsewhere, so it's like a bonus gift!

Annas bag 024

 Fingers crossed she likes it!

Tuesday’s Tutorial Treat–Christmas Edition 4


It’s the FINAL WEEK before Christmas – who’s excited?! Has everyone got all the Christmas shopping and/or crafting done? I think I’m done…or should I say I hope I’m done!
Anyway, for those of you who may need a little final flourish at a Christmas related craft before the big day, I’ve got a few quick and cute Christmas accessories you could try:

How about this festive half apron from Jona of Stop Staring and Start Sewing? As Jona says, this apron can be whipped up in an hour – so, as long as you have the right festive fabric, you could easily make this in time to wear while passing out the mince pies on the 25th! Link HERE

And while on the cooking theme, why not make a matching oven mitt to go with your new apron? Cindy from Skip To My Lou shows us how. Link HERE

I just love this poinsettia brooch from Lisa of Lil Fish Studios, I’m very tempted to make this for myself ( to find gold thread!). Link HERE

And finally – I hate trying to wrap awkward shaped gifts and usually end up putting them in gift bags instead…so I was really chuffed to find that Jessica from How About Orange shows us how to make our own (these are very eco-friendly ones made from newspaper, but you could make yours more festive by using wrapping paper). Link HERE

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Mini Handbags

I aluded to a couple of little handbags that I made from my nieces Christmas presents on this post, but then promptly forgot to take proper photos of the bags - well done me! One got shipped off to Australia on the 5th December (last posting day for Oz, I love a deadline!) and then I was merrily packing up the second one to post to England when I realised I should take a few quick snaps to share with you!

These are made using the Keyka Lou Half Moon handbag pattern (I can't seem to find the pattern on her website, perhaps she isn't selling it anymore), which I also used to make a black and silver bag earlier this year. Because I was making them for a 5 and a 7 year old I thought I should down-size the pattern, so these are reduced by 20%. I was worried that it might make it a bit fiddly to work with, but it turned out fine.

The inside is lined with pink polka-dots (which you may recognise) and I used a mini magnetic snap (so cute!). Having studied Geology at University I really should know better than to take a photo of a subject without including a scale, so you will just have to believe me when I tell you that the bags is about 7inches across!

I'd love to get some photos of the bags in action, but since I don't see my nieces very often (such a shame) I can't promise anything, but I'll see what I can do.

Is anyone else making any Christmas presents this year? Have you got them all done or are you still frantically working away?! I'd love to see what you have been working on - do post a link of you have blogged about them.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Tuesday’s Tutorial Treat – Christmas Edition 3

Less than two weeks to go! My mind is currently on what to wear on the 25th as I like to wear something special on Christmas day…and it’s usually red. Do you like to get dressed up for Christmas, even if you are just staying at home? Have you decided what you are wearing yet? There’s still time to whip up something special for the day, and here are a few tutorials to inspire you:

First up I have a casual option for a very comfy looking maxi dress tutorial from Sweet Verbena. You could definitely dress this up or down and make it work for colder or warmer weather – an all round winner I think! Link HERE.

Or how about a slinky multi-way dress by the amazing Oona? Imagine if you made this up in red and white stripes…you’d look like a candy cane! The photo above shows only one way to wear this dress, but it can be worn at least 3 other ways – fantastic! Link HERE.

And finally – perhaps you are after a show stopper for the day? Maybe not one to wear to the Church in the morning (if you are that way inclined), but would look great for the evening. This is made by the very talented Geneva from A Pair and A Spare. If you like DIY fashion you have to follow her blog – it is very inspiring. Link HERE.

Monday, 12 December 2011

We have a Winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered my giveaway.
Using the Random Number Generator the winner is:
random giveaway number 2
Judith giveaway comment
Judith, I’ve sent you an e-mail – but if you didn’t get it, do send me your address asap and I’ll pop the New Look 6348, WW B520 and the rest in the post straight away.
Thanks again everyone!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Tuesday’s Tutorial Treat – Christmas Edition 2

The second installation of the Christmas themed Tuesday’s Tutorial Treat is all about Christmas Decorations – if you haven’t made any decorations this year, perhaps these might tempt you:

A quirky twist on the typical Christmas stocking – Disney Family Fun (lol, not a website I frequent too often, I found this on Pinterest) show you how to make an Elf style stocking. Love the curly toe! Link HERE.

Isn’t this cushion a stunner?!!! Centsational Girl (if you don’t follow this blog and love home DIY you should!) shows you how to make this beautiful poinsettia cushion. I want this cushion in my life, NOW! Link HERE.

spots,holly,deco,blog,godo 010
Finally you can’t have a post on Christmas decorations without having a tree ornament. This one comes from Kirsty Fish off That Crafty Fish, via  Bugs and Fishes (two really lovely UK based crafty blogs, do check them out!). Link HERE.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Look–a finished project!

purple sorbetto 013
Well, can you believe it – I actually have photos of a finished project and can finally share something tangible on this ol’ blog!
So, as I’ve mentioned previously, I made up the infamous Sorbetto top. Initially I made it in it’s original form – without sleeves. But sleevless tops and I just don’t see eye-to-eye so I decided to add the sleeves. It did help, but I’m still not totally convinced with it! I bound the neck with pale pink bias binding. It’s not quite the right shade, but was the closest the shop had…and I think it’s also the wrong width. So the bias binding is probably one of the things I’m not overjoyed with, and maybe one day I may change it. On the plus side, this is quite a frugal make because you can cut this top out of less than a yard of fabric!!
Anyway, here are a few shots of me trying to style it up. Excuse the bad poses, it’s early days in my ‘modelling’ career!
purple sorbetto 003
Workin’ my ‘Autumn Palette’ colours (oh god, please don’t ask me about those plans I made….still working on it!! They might be ready for next Autumn!)

purple sorbetto 005
Sans cardi

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Adding a bit of sparkle…

P.S. Who’s got their tree up? As of one hour ago, I do!! Woohoo…bring on the festivities!
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